The sun remained as unfriendly as always,
the clouds- they’ve probably been bullied away.
Embracing her cloth more tightly, more close now,
she squinted, scanning for the bus stand.
There must have been seven, yes seven, who waited
for their twelve pm transport under scarce shade.
Reddened in pallor, they laughed at the lame humor
of a friend’s impersonated rant.
Our girl approached, rubbing dry her sweaty palms,
while the sun ascended to its peak -
taunting witnesses, beaming pride, it boasts aloud,
as, for centuries, the afternoon sun has.
‘Astaghfirullah’ her lips spilled out, ‘It’s hot!’
she clarified with a smile. They stared like she
had expected them to do: alien, with a foreign hue -
though hiding her difference was never the plan.
Disbelief tinted glances now questioned her, sneaked in
the way her self-confidence had sneaked away.
The paranoia sniffed in her aura’d putrefied by now,
the discomfort fidgeting with her hands.
“You’ve wrapped your head in summer?” The toddler dangling
from across her, curiously grinned as she answered away
“I like it this way,” her voice fading as
his mother reproached “No talking to strangers, Sam.”
His slipped in smiles still gave her comfort
that her religious choices wouldn’t doom her for good.
‘Maybe the kindergartners won’t see
the shadow of prejudice, marring me for all I’m not.’
As the bus coughed to halt, her hands clasped in silent prayer
‘Maybe this’ll be the interview that gives me a job.’
She scurried past the eyeing passengers, past the misunderstandings that chained her
embracing the confidence her hijab gave her true self.